2013 did not go off with a bang for me. In fact, I started the year at an all-time low and was struggling to get my feet back on the ground. Thankfully it is all done and dusted, the year has indeed gone by for more than a year now, and all that is left to do is to “forget what lies behind and press on towards the future” (Philippians 3:13), with a few good memories to cling onto.
In January I celebrated my birthday on a Friday with my Homes Group, the best people in the world who have taken care and loved me since the day I arrived in Singapore three years ago. I then went on the Star Cruise from Singapore to Penang and Phuket with my family as a pre-CNY trip; a pretty interesting experience, though not recommended for young independent travellers my age.
In February I celebrated Chinese New Year at home with my family in Penang, which included a short trip to Hatyai, our favourite Thai destination for shopping, food and massage. There was plenty of downtime at home with my two adorable nieces, baking lots of butter cake and drinking lots of local coffee. I also visited the then newly-opened Adventure Park in Teluk Bahang and explored Georgetown with my younger sister.
By March I was well-settled back into daily working life in Singapore, with a short trip to Melaka to save me. I stayed at the Sterling Hotel for a night to review their Jacuzzi Suite and also to see one of my best friends and her family. We spent lots of time eating at her father’s favourite stalls, visiting her uncle’s traditional Chinese medicine shop, exploring good ol’ Melaka town and then coming back together on the 707 coach.
In April I went on a week-long work trip to Bangkok, my first time ever in the capital. I enjoyed lots of office and eating time with my Thai colleagues, visited Chatuchak Market and met up with a girl I used to study in Beijing with. Towards the end of April, I made another trip to Klang to visit a couple I knew from Manchester – my trips seem to trend in the way of centering around meeting long lost friends – which is hardly a bad thing.
I spent May in Yogyakarta with another good girl, a childhood friend who has been with me for over 20 years. I made her watch a really boring Ramayana ballet on her first night and took her around Jogja in a becak. But this was not before a lightning trip back to Penang for the 2013 General Elections (GE13) – a first for me in voting, and a national event that brought everyone so much closer together as a family, a village, a state and a nation.
In June things got really hectic, with many activities cranked up on full gear. There was Re:Union in Kuala Lumpur, the passion and fire following on from GE13 still fresh in our minds, and other activities at church; a flea market sale at SCAPE, a Minizine cover shoot at a Tanjong Pagar studio and a single mothers’ talk in Bukit Merah. I also spoke to online journalism students at Ngee Ann Polytechnic and became a panelist on the WITNext travel forum.
In July, I made a bold move out of my previous flat and into a new place in Simei. I also took my very first press trip to Montigo Resorts in Batam, which I really enjoyed. I had a whole villa to myself and made lots of new contacts from other publications. July was also the month I visited Hong Kong and Macau for six days, one of my best solo trips to date. Hong Kong, I promise to be back, and this time, with friends and family in tow!
August was an upside down month for me. A friend from the States came to visit, and we travelled to Surabaya together, which was pretty challenging. A few days after that my sister came and we had a ball of a time hanging out at Mustafa Center, IKEA, SEA Aquarium, Gardens by the Bay and eating dim sum at Jalan Besar and nasi lemak in Katong. There was also a Hari Raya open house at a colleague’s, an underwater Minizine photoshoot and an Acts TV filming.
September was a bit quieter and pretty low-key, with only one hotel stay at M Hotel Singapore, followed by a friend’s surprise proposal at Sentosa. There was plenty of home-cooking and stayovers, a month characterised by lots of food; a chicken rice birthday dinner in Bugis, brunch at Nassim Hill Bakery, homemade lasagnas, enchilladas, salmon with roasted potatoes and asparagus and even a big English breakfast!
My highlight in October was going to see the Essential Eames exhibition at the ArtScience Museum, a showcase of Charles and Ray Eames’ industrial and furniture designs. I also took a short trip to Penang for my Mum’s birthday and reviewed Four Points by Sheraton in Tanjong Tokong while I was at it. Other highlights include a trip to Kampong Buangkok and Chomp Chomp with a childhood friend and watching Ilo Ilo at the cinemas.
In November, my Mum and sister came to visit me in Singapore. There was a wedding luncheon at Sheraton Towers, a hi tea buffet at Grand Hyatt, a cinema trip to watch Donnie Yen’s Special ID and lots and lots of catching up. I also reviewed Fraser Suite Robertson Walk, watched Hunger Games: Catching Fire on my own and went to Melaka for church camp with my family here at Changi Christian Fellowship (CCF).
By the time December came, I was ready for my year-end major holiday to Australia. I spent lots and lots of quality time with my little sister, and even managed a short holiday within a holiday to attend our best friend’s wedding in Hobart. Highlights from Australia include a trip to the Grampians, exploring the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and other trivial happy things like napping in the car and chatting in bed.
I’m just so so glad that my year ended on a high.
Goodbye 2013, you were as smelly as you were sweet.